clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Evolve 114 recap & review: NXT stars win both Evolve titles, Dan Matha gets outpaced by the Skulk, and James Damn Drake is the man

Evolve Wrestling on Twitter

The show kicks off right into a pre-show match!

Mat Rogers & Zenshi vs. Precipice (Chance Auren & Omar Amir)

Rogers and Auren to start, Chance with an early lead, working him over, but a tag to Zenshi starts to turn the tide. Chance whips him into the ropes, he does a one-hand handstand into a Tiger feint kick and follows it with a tornillo, most impressive! Amir tags in, huge slam, working the high flyer over, into quick tags and trying to grind him down.

Hot tag from Rogers, teamwork leads Zenshi to tag back in but he immediately pays for it. The match starts to break down, Zenshi with some more hype hype flying maneuvers but a rake of the eyes from Precipice manager Skinny Vinny cuts his rally off. Whip into a spinebuster, up for a back suplex...

The Precipice win by pinfall with a back suplex lift dropped into a lariat takedown from Chance Auren on Zenshi.

Fun pre-show match, nothing too special, just good quality tag team action. Really happy to see Zenshi get a look from Evolve-- dude’s been grinding for years (you may remember him better under his old ring name of Shynron) and he’s quite talented.

The actual show kicks off like always with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to run the show down and hype the card up.

Evolve World Champion Shane Strickland interrupts. He says they want to talk about familiar faces, look no further than he. Actually, he wants to talk about the familiar faces you won’t be seeing anymore, like Matt Riddle, DJ Z (you haven’t seen him since Swerve broke his arm!) and last but not least, “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, whose Evolve career he ended.

He came here and promised to be a threat and a champion, and he did both, and now Evolve have to do a whole talent initiative because no one is left.

ENTER NXT’S FABIAN AICHNER! Strickland goes to deck him with the belt but Aichner ducks it and drops him with a huge backbreaker! Shane slips away and Fabian tells him he’s coming for his title! Strickland gets on the mic and says this an opportunity to end his career, so yeah, later tonight he’ll have the title match and get sent back to the Performance Center with a broken arm!

Darby Allin vs. Josh Briggs (WWN Championship Ladder Match Qualifying Match)

Briggs bringing his strength to bear in the feeling out but Allin is able to start chipping away at his leg and keep it a fair fight! A quebrada comes up empty, into the lucha libre, big arm drag, Josh to the floor and Darby follows out after him! Forearm ducked, Briggs hits the bar and Allin’s on him like a spider monkey, punching away! Darby with a suicide dive!

Back in the ring, keeping the pressure up but Josh catches him out of the corner and buckle bombs him to set up the “I don’t like you!” Mafia kick! Dumping him to the floor, jawing at him, waiting for Darby to drag himself back in only to powerbomb him... ONLY A ONE COUNT! Allin fighting back, desperation punch gets a cracking elbow from the big man!

Perching up top, springboard... CAUGHT INTO THE BLACK HOLE BACKBREAKER FOR TWO! Off the ropesa few times, Darby goes for a crossbody, caught, reversal... CRUCIFIX DRIVER CAN’T PUT JOSH BRIGGS AWAY! Float over the suplex, chop block, O’Connor roll into a springboard crossbody on the kickout, still only a nearfall! Briggs to the floor, Allin up top for the Coffin Drop... AND JOSH CATCHES HIM AND SMASHES HIM INTO THE RINGPOST!

CHOKESLAM ON THE BAR, WE’RE IN THE ORPHEUM FOR REAL NOW, BABY! Dragging him back in for the cover... DARBY LIVES! Briggs heads up top, Darby cuts him off and puts him into the Tree of Woe for some wicked chops! Headed up over him, Josh sits up and goozles him into a kind of suplex! Big man moonsault, nobody home, Allin with right hands, Yoshi Tonic... STILL NO!

Jockeying for position, Darby gets another chop block, shotgun dropkick, go-behind into the standing Diamond Dust... COFFIN DROP COUNTERED INTO GO TO HELL FOR TWO! Up top, looking for a powerbomb... DARBY COUNTERS INTO AN AVALANCHE FRANKENSTEINER! Folding the legs...

Darby Allin wins by pinfall with Last Supper, qualifying for the WWN Championship Ladder Match later tonight.

Fantastic opener for the show proper, just bang bang bang both guys’ greatest hits until we have a winner. Plus bar fighting! Good stuff all around.

Jessie Elaban vs. Priscilla Kelly

Kelly smothering Elaban in the feeling out, moving on to grappling, getting the better of her through a series of holds but Jessie’s able to get a reversal here and there and keep herself in the fight. Turning the heat up, shot off, drop downs, and finally one trips Priscilla up! TPK ducks a lariat, into a mat slam, stomping away, clearly tired of toying with Elaban.

Abusing her over the ropes, Kelly’s assault continues, clubbing away in the middle of the ring and dragging the NXT superstar around by her hair. Monkey flip for some separation but Priscilla lands a back elbow and a Penalty Kick... only a nearfall! Jessie throwing right hands, TPK catches her with a series of kicks but she returns a dropkick and both women are down and out.

Throwing more dropkicks, staying with what works, fired up, Elaban gets her in the corner, leaping forearm on the charge into a snapmare and then an axe kick... NO GOOD! Sidestep the charge, catch a boot, Jessie gets her up for it, Argentine neckbreaker... STILL NO! Duck a lariat, off the ropes, STO gets TPK a nearfall, she’s getting frustrated, trying to figure out how to end it.

Jessie with forearms, one gets caught, Russian legsweep takes her down...

Priscilla Kelly wins by submission with Trapped in Sin.

This was a solid match, well laid out but a bit lacking in the execution. Not, like, incredibly so, but a lot of things just being fractionally off adds up and took me out of it a little.

Adrian Jaoude vs. Joe Gacy

Gacy throwing punches early, Jaoude keeps his distance and starts in on his grappling game but neither man can get much of an advantage. Adrian pulling ahead, backing Joe into the corner but the former CZW World Heavyweight Champion fires up and hammers him back into the corner with strikes! Jaoude in with a takedown, palm strikes to the head as Gacy turtles up, looking for an armbar but Joe keeps his hands clasped!

Shifting, Gacy with a front chancery, struggling on the mat as Cezar Bononi cheers his countryman and tag partner on from ringside, Adrian gets a waistlock takedown, more palm strikes, trying to knot up Joe’s muscles and create an opening. To his feet, struggling around, Jaoude gets a spinebuster, picks the leg into a heel hook and Gacy escapes with kicks to the arm!

Going back to the leg, he kicks Jaoude off and hits a handspring Stunner! Powerbomb attempt, Adrian LANDS ON HIS FEETm kicks his leg out from under him, one knee strike...

Adrian Jaoude wins by pinfall with a 540 pump kick.

I kinda loved this match. Short and sweet, not an instant classic or anything, but Gacy as the bruiser against Jaoude’s more clinical technician hit me right in my sweet spot. I knew I liked Joe a lot ever since I first saw him wrestling Yusuke Kodama way back on the last 2CW show ever, but Jaoude was a bit of a revelation here. The palm strikes! Definitely a guy I’m looking forward to seeing more of here in Evolve, especially as he moves on to matches against our more established grapplers, Anthony Henry, Darby Allin, maybe a returning Timothy Thatcher, and so on.

Barrett Brown vs. Leon Ruff

Fast-paced jockeying for position early, bit of lucha libre, double arm drag stalemate! Brown handsprings out of a headscissors takeover, Ruff follows with a step-up double jump springboard Frankensteiner! Dropkick, Leon running hot, huge right hand but Barrett is able to slingshot him into a cracking good forearm! Busaiku knee follows it up and Ruff rolls to the floor... AND CUTS A DIVE OFF WITH A LOW LEG LARIAT!

Leon off the ropes himself, suicide dive connects, Brown rolls back in and trips him up on the apron to set up a senton atomico to the floor! Back inside, trading chops, body slam gets two, snap suplex into the turnbuckles... RUFF GETS A HAND ON THE ROPES! Winding up, charging in, cut off with an elbow and then a boot and Leon snaps another Frankensteiner off!

Flying forearms, Manhattan Drop into a wicked lariat and Ruff is ready! Jockeying for position, STO backbreaker into a neckbreaker, again just a nearfall! Struggle over a waistlock, Brown with a strike rush into a rotating back suplex facebuster... NOPE! Whip to the corner, Ruff ducks a dropkick and Barrett eats it hard! Charging in, double jump elbow drop... but Brown rolls to the floor!

Leon climbs... MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Back in, fired up, goes for Straight Edge, denied, jackknife pin, trading pins, duck a lariat, wheelbarrow...

Leon Ruff wins by pinfall with a victory roll pin.

This was a really fun match. Ruff is quickly becoming the breakout star of the Skulk and Brown is a guy I’ve been hoping would come back ever since his first Evolves back in January of last year, and they worked really well together.

Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) vs. Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Dickinson and Dawkins to start, hard grappling in the feeling out, but sooner or later Jaka tags in and we get to striking. It’s no rout, however, and Ford tags in, Wakanda Forever... NOPE! Working the Smooth Savage’s arm over, Jaka returns the favor and the match breaks down when Montez reverses and shows a little swagger! Settling right back down, the champion in control again but challenger is soon busting out the lucha libre and right back into the swagtastic armbar from earlier!

Tags made, double-teams, the Doom Patrol are scattered! Ford tags back in, but Jaka gets a blind tag and the champs work him over! Montez isolated at length, Doom Patrol attacking his legs hard, Dickinson getting a series of big nearfalls off the likes of a fisherman buster and a Falcon Arrow shortly before Dawkins gets the tag! Pushing the champs around with his power game, spearing Jaka out of the boots he doesn’t even wear!

Pumphandle exploder suplex gets two, challengers double-teaming Jaka but the damage was done to Montez’s leg and the Smooth Savage is able to make a tag! Dickinson on Ford, right back to the leg, wicked enzuigiri sets up a powerbomb... NOPE! Chris jawing at him, Montez cracks a superkick off... AND THE NXT SUPERSTAR HITS A SIT-OUT PILEDRIVER ONLY FOR JAKA TO MAKE THE SAVE!

Jaka right on the button with a superkick, champs fired up and calling for it, electric chair... Ford makes the save! Dumping the Dirty Daddy to the floor, fireman’s carry flapjack sets the Smooth Savage in place...

Street Profits win by pinfall with Pump Machine from Montez Ford on Jaka to win the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

Hell of a match! Good back and forth action early into a classical heat segment, and that finishing stretch! Nice to see that NXT folks are allowed to stretch their wings a little and “wrestle indie”, so to speak, with Ford’s piledriver and whatnot. Exciting times!

Profits get on the mic after the match and soak in the atmosphere at first before Dawkins gives them a big introduction and says not only will they have these titles, but they’ll always have them, whether it’s Detroit, Chicago, New York City, they’re going to carry them anywhere and everywhere and accept all challengers.

And so the show goes to intermission.

Dante Marquis Carter vs. Mikey Spandex

Even in the feeling out, Spandex fired up but Carter drops him with a lariat! They’re interrupted by Dan Matha, he beats them down...

The match goes to a no contest.

Matha continues to beat them down before getting on the microphone. He says he keeps hearing about Evolve as the place where the best up-and-comers are but he’s come here on his day off to prove that the talent here isn’t on his level. The hardest part of his day if having to wake up and roll the two beautiful women off of him. He says if any men are masculine enough to come and do something about it, he’s here and from now on he’s the alpha.

He calls everyone in the back “soft, feminine soy boys” and the Skulk answer the call!

They ask whose man this is and who let the earthworm into the building before informing Mr. Matha that Evolve is the Skulk’s house. They offer Dan the fourth spot in the Skulk scramble since Tommy Maserati is unavailable, and we’ve got a match!

Adrian Alanis vs. Dan Matha vs. Liam Grey vs. Shawn Dean (Scramble Match)

Matha taking a breather on the floor, Grey and Alanis right into it, Dean not far behind, fast-paced, nobody able to land that strong of a shot until Shawn wipes both his teammates out with lariats! Adrian returns the favor hard and squares up with Dan! Matha shrugs a chop off and grabs a headlock, Alanis into the ropes to break and now Dean’s back only to get freight trained.

Dan with the headlock again before moving on to slinging Skulk lads around, leading AR Fox to come in and help his boys out with a missile dropkick! Continuing to hammer him off-balance, they run him off to the floor! Referee Jake Clemons asks Fox to leave and he does so, leaving his lads to a three-way fight! Huge lungblower from Dean on Alanis, he pops Grey to the apron and Liam leaps over him for a frog splash on Adrian!

Jockeying for position, Shawn catches Grey into an Argentine backbreaker rack drop backbreaker! Alanis picks him up...

Adrian Alanis wins by pinfall with an Argentine backbreaker rack dropped into a Codebreaker on Shawn Dean.

Let’s talk about Dan Matha.

I’ll start by saying that I want to live in a world where wrestling can make me uncomfortable. I love deathmatches, for one, and technical wrestling is my favorite wrestling despite the fact that I get sick to my stomach every time somebody does the thing where the fold their opponent’s arm down on the mat palm down, and stomp the bicep. So too, with gimmicks, wrestling should be allowed to go to dark places!

That being said, I do not appreciate Matha’s gimmick here. I see too much alt-right manosphere nonsense in my life as it is without having to deal with him coming into my favorite wrestling promotion and talking “soy boy” this and “alpha male” that. Which, hey! Maybe it’s just me being overly sensitive to these things, I can acknowledge that that’s a possibility.

Certainly being trans it sets my Spidey-sense tingling when folks denigrate people for not living up to imaginary gender standards, but it’s wrestling, he’s playing a character, I’ll give him a shot. So I took a deep breath, unpaused the VOD, and continued... and then Matha was boring on top of it all. Played-out WWE main event heel headlock spots in a scramble featuring three of the Skulk, the happiest and most exciting gang on the planet? Get outta here!

”But that’s the gimmick! He has to do headlocks!” I hear you saying, to which I reply, well, why not show how alpha and better you are than these indie losers by indie-ing better than they do? Better != slow WWE main event headlock spots. Sure he’s not the only guy in Evolve that does too many of those, but at least the beginning and ends of Austin Theory matches are exciting!

You can make me uncomfortable or you can drag down the quality of Evolve’s matches, but you absolutely cannot do both. Back to the drawing board, sir. Try again.

Fabian Aichner vs. Shane Strickland (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Aichner stepping right to Strickland, refusing to let the champion intimidate him. Grappling gives way to lucha and back to grappling and back to the lucha, Fabian having a slight edge the whole way through. Shane gets going with right hands, but Aichner cuts him off with a crossbody and a huge back suplex! Swerve hiding behind referee Brandon Tolle, and he uses the distraction to get a double knee armbreaker in!

Taking him to the floor, wrenching his shoulder into the steel support beam and then applying an armbar against the ringpost! Following it up by targeting his challenger’s head, kicks and a Saito suplex out of the corner before going back to the arm, starting with an omoplata and then into a kind of a Rings of Saturn variant. Fabian to his feet, Strickland has a bodyscissors surfboard.... AICHNER BITES THE ROPES TO BREAK!

Staggered, desperate, Fabian throws chops and manages to send Shane stumbling but he tries one with the bad arm and immediately regrets it. Back body drop spikes the champion’s knee into the mat and Aichner starts a slugfest, dropping Swerve with a lariat and an elbow before hitting a big tilt-a-whirl backbreaker! Shaking life back into his arm, up and over to the apron, missile dropkick... NO!

Looking for a powerslam, Strickland manages to escape to the apron and lines him up but gets caught into a Finlay Roll and the double jump moonsault... NO GOOD! Champ blocks a few charges, gets a Tiger feint kick in the corner, rolling thunder Ace Crusher denied, roll through and he gets the Ace Crusher the second time... ONLY A NEARFALL!

Jockeying for position, Aichner gets a buckle bomb out of a reversal, big lariat, fired up, fireman’s carry, pop him up... SWERVE COUNTERS TO A DOUBLE STOMP BUT HIS FOLLOWUP GETS COUNTERED INTO A BRAINBUSTER! Both men slow to rise, staggered, trading right hands, off the ropes, pop-up into a hurricanrana... NOT ENOUGH! Up top for the stomp, Fabian counters with a belly-to-belly superplex, follows it with a Black Hole Slam... SHANE STRICKLAND IS STILL THE EVOLVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!

Strickland back to the arm, Aichner fights out, Finlay Roll, up for the moonsault but Shane knocks him off the top and to the floor hard! Following after, boot to the face, setting him up across a rail... SWERVE STOMP OFF THE APRON TO THE RAIL! Back inside, up top, Fabian seated... SWERVE STOMP CAN’T PUT HIM AWAY! Back to the arm, setting up the arm break spot but Aichner fights his way out of it.

Trading right hands again, Shane takes him down, Fabian still struggling, the inverted stomp armbreaker makes him pay! Champion perched up top, his challenger charges to meet him but Strickland wrenches the arm to cut him off and hits a sunset flip powerbomb! Up top again, looking for maybe a blockbuster... AICHNER COUNTERS WITH A BRAINBUSTER! REVOLUTION POWERBOMB... IT’S OVER!

Fabian Aichner wins by pinfall with a revolution powerbomb, winning the Evolve World Championship.

First off, cards on the table, this is a disappointing result. I really like Fabian Aichner, I’m happy for him to have an extended run here in Evolve and I think he’ll carry the title in a way that we can all really be proud of, but Shane Strickland’s run this year has been really fantastic and it’s a bummer to see it cut off early by a man who had nothing to do with Swerve’s story coming into tonight’s show.

That being said, this was an excellent match! Aichner’s mixture of power moves and high flying acumen played well against Strickland’s unorthodox grappling and flying, good stuff all around.

Aichner gets on the mic and says Shane said there’s nobody left, well, he just beat him in the middle of the ring, one two three, and he’s going to defend it in Chicago, Detroit, New York and anywhere else, and it’s gonna be absolutely sick!

Anthony Henry vs. AR Fox vs. Austin Theory vs. Darby Allin vs. Harlem Bravado vs. JD Drake (WWN Championship Ladder Match)

Everybody hits the floor to look for ladders and we’ve got a brawl! Order emerges from the chaos with Henry and Drake working together, Fox goes to set up a ladder and Bravado stops him, WorkHorsemen come in the ring together, jockeying for position over the ladder before the fighting heads deep into the crowd, Drake chopping Theory over the merch table!

God, I love Orpheum brawls! Harlem gets the big man on the merch table but eats a back body drop! Austin gets dragged along the bar, WorkHorsemen beating on Bravado but Harlem slams Anthony into the merch table! Fox with a knucklelock, step up on the bar, arm drag / headscissors on Bravado and Theory! JD back to the ring, getting a ladder set up as his former tag partner approaches and they fight over the ladder as reality sets in!

Bravado in, they take him out with some real Backseat Boyz stuff, same for Theory, AR as well, just sweet double teams for everybody! WorkHorsemen back to the ladder, tug of war, jawing, Austin returns and they deck him with the ladder! Harlem up top... DOUBLE BLOCKBUSTER! Darby back in, a ladder is atop Drake... BRAVADO POWERBOMBS ALLIN INTO THE LADDER!

Harlem slides a new ladder in and unfold it as Darby is helped to the back. First climb of the night, Theory cuts him off and they brawl in the corner. Fox in, he folds the ladder back up and gets the busted one to lean it in the corner. Ladder to the midsection, AR dropkicks the ladder and Austin takes his teacher out! Arguing with Bravado gives Fox time to recover and dropkick the ladder in a way that takes both of them out this time!

Ducking and dodging, floating over, mentor and student, Theory dumps him to the apron and AR trips him up before heading up top and getting a chair thrown in his face for his troubles! But you can’t keep Fox down and he ends up hitting a senton atomico off the stage moments later! Putting Austin back inside, he sets a few chairs on him, climbs back up on the stage... GUILLOTINE LEG DROP WITH CHAIRS OFF THE DAMN STAGE!

WorkHorsemen working together again, superkick / powerbomb into the apron takes AR Fox out! Not done with him, they set him up in a chair on the floor... CHOP! DROPKICK! Same for Theory! Another Henry dropkick takes JD out incidentally and Harlem drops him off the apron with a pump kick! Off the ropes, Bravado ain’t flying, choosing to taunt instead and he low-bridges Theory... NOW COMES THE TOP CON GIRO AND HE HOPS UP ON THE BAR AFTER!

Posing on the bar, Fox on the turnbuckles... SENTON ATOMICO TO THE FLOOR! DRAKE HITS A BIG BOY MOONSAULT OFF THE STAGE! JD’s arm bothering him, shaking life into it, he and Bravado are alone in the ring and fighting over a ladder, so he stomps Unsigned Hype’s hand in! Austin takes them both out with a dropkick! Ayla Fox and Priscilla Kelly are getting into it! AYLA WITH A SUPERKICK VAN DAMINATOR!

Henry’s alone with nobody to stop him! Climbing, AR cuts him off and clubs away! Drake with the save, double whip... DOUBLE ACE CRUSHER! Fox sets the ladder back up, he climbs, Harlem dives... FOX GOES FOR AN ACE CRUSHER BUT BOTH MEN CRASH AND BURN! Fox climbing anyway, Theory right behind him and he hammers him right in the gentleman’s area!

Harlem cuts Austin off with a ladder before bridging the main ladder to the ropes with it. Headed up top, Theory climbing with him, JD back in as they struggle atop the ladder, Anthony not far behind. Drake takes Austin out with a chair... HENRY TAKES BRAVADO OUT WITH A DOUBLE STOMP INTO THE LADDER! The Lethal Lover climbs... and JD is the one that has to cut him off!

Henry returns the favor and we’ve got a shoving match! Drake throws the ladder out of the way and they go at it like men of honor after a fist bump! Anthony pulling ahead but JD takes the punishment and rises, shrugging off lariats and decking him with a backfist! CANNONBALL BUT THERE’S NO WATER IN THE POOL! HENRY GETS DRAKE UP FOR THE GERMAN SUPLEX BUT JD’S FIRED UP... SICK KICK!

Drake sets the ladder back up, kick to his partner’s head, he climbs but Henry’s not done yet and yanks him off the ladder and lays him out with a superkick! Bravado with the Gentleman’s Agreement, one for AR Fox too, he blocks a JD Drake chop with a chair and wallops the New Age Enforcer with it! Climbing, Anthony cuts him off, both men up top... and the ladder falls over!

DARBY IS BACK AND HE’S ON THE BALCONY... COFFIN DROP OFF THE BALCONY PUTS HARLEM THROUGH A TABLE! Theory sets the ladder up and climbs but Fox is right on him! Leg pick takes him down, clubbing blows, Austin fights back and sets him in the corner before setting him up top, jockeying for position, AR slips out, sets a ladder across the ropes and an unfolded chair... LO MEIN PAIN THROUGH THE LADDER!

Fox headed up the ladder again but a desperate Theory is hanging off his boots and crawling right behind him! ATAXIA! Drake runs the former champion away and kicks Fox for good measure before climbing. Allin back in, climbing one-armed to meet him and hammering him with palm strikes, one level chop from JD cracks across the arena... DARBY TAKES HIM OUT WITH A NECKBREAKER OFF THE LADDER!

Climbing, Allin so close to his goal, but Anthony wallops him with a chair repeatedly, hammering the bad arm and screaming in rage! Headed up the ladder himself, Darby hanging onto his foot so Henry asks if he wants to die! Theory leaves the question moot with a dropkick through the chair, climbing but the ladder is out of position! The Blue Collar Badass cuts him off... LEG PICK POWERBOMB INTO DRILL BIT!

Drake climbing the ladder, five men trying to collect themselves to deny him, Bravado, Theory, and Henry all climb after him but the big man reaches... HE GOT IT!

JD Drake wins by retrieving the title belt to win the WWN Championship.

This match is a car wreck in the best possible way. Stuff just keeps happening, everybody gets a spot to show what they got, just fantastic stuff start to finish. And what a winner!

An angry Henry shoves the ladder over after the match and gets into Drake’s face before yanking the title away and putting it around his tag team partner’s waist and hugging him. Raising his hand in victory, Anthony leaves the new champion to soak in the atmosphere of his victory.

Drake gets on the mic and says sixteen long years culminated in one night in Ybor City, Florida. If you’ve been following Evolve, you’ve seen him and his best friend Anthony Henry take the place by storm. On their first night they beat Doom Patrol for the tag titles and within a year Henry became FIP World Heavyweight Champion!

A year ago, JD didn’t know if he’d put his boots back on after the man that trained him, David Reimer, passed away after a horrific car accident. He had a stroke behind the wheel, crashed into a stream, and drowned, and he was the only man for 14 years to tell him he was good enough to be a champion. He asks how many folks have been told they’re not good enough, that they don’t deserve, and that’s a damn lie!

If he’s good enough, we are, and this title isn’t just for him, it’s for each and every one of us! Welcome to the reign of the Blue Collar Badass!


This was a hell of a show. Not one of the best of the year or anything, but a good solid above-average show all the same. Matchwise, all three title matches were excellent and nothing aside from maybe the Skulk scramble featuring Dan Matha was anything less than good, so Evolve’s streak rolls on in that regard.

Storyline-wise, this one was big. We’ve got a HUGE influx of new talent from NXT, and while some are working out better than others and I can sit here and reiterate my concerns about Dan Matha’s gimmick or how Shane Strickland’s story ended, overall I’m really happy with the direction things are going.

It’s prettymuch a total reset for Evolve, with only maybe Darby Allin’s quest for gold and the Fox/Theory teacher/student feud continuing from the Evolve of the summer, but with Mustafa Ali and Kassius Ohno coming in through the rest of the year I think we’ll be fine. And considering how many other former top Evolve stars work for WWE these days, I’m very excited for the other possibilities.

Last but not least, James Damn (that’s what JD stands for, you know) Drake is WWN Champion, and as somebody who cottoned onto the New Age Enforcer through his work in PWX shortly before he came to Evolve, I couldn’t be happier to have him as champion.

Check the VOD out on WWNLive, either as an individual purchase or by subscription through Club WWN, folks.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats